True Religion

Not this.

Not this.

Christians in America today need to be radical about supporting freedom of religion in public life. In doing so, we will be carrying on the grand tradition upon which this country was founded. Some have called it the great experiment.

Contrary to what has been believed and taught in many churches in the last 30 years since the culture wars took hold in this country, America is not a Christian nation. It is a nation established for the free expression of all religions, including no religion at all. Our founding fathers came to this country to escape the tyranny of a government-dictated religion. The last thing they would do would be to found another government like the one they left. No, they started a great experiment where everyone would fight for their own freedom, and everyone else’s freedom as well.

As true Christians, atheists are not our enemies; they are fellow Americans. Secular humanists are not our enemies; they are fellow Americans. Muslims are not our enemies; they are fellow Americans. Democrats and Republicans are not each other’s enemies; they are fellow Americans.

When our soldiers die defending this country, they are not dying for Christianity; they are dying for Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, and on and on. They are dying for a great ideal, that this nation would support and defend the right of every man and woman to worship as he or she pleases. And that, my friend, is an ideal worth dying for.

This is why Christians are barking up the wrong tree when we expend so much energy, power and rhetoric trying to keep prayer in schools, God in the Pledge, the Ten Commandments on the state house lawn, and so on. The average school in California has 19 religions represented; shall we have 19 different prayers? We are acting like people who want to take prayer out of schools are our enemies taking away our rights, when we should be the ones fighting for the rights of other religions to exist in our schools.

If the founding fathers had come here to establish the kingdom of God, that would have been one thing, but they did not, and it’s a good thing they didn’t, because the kingdom of God is not of this world, and anyone who tries to make it so is in for lots of trouble. As one of our readers pointed out, you can trace a lot of our problems with religion and state back to Constantine, during whose time Christianity first became the state religion. Jesus did not come to establish a nation; He came to establish the kingdom of God, and then told us to make followers of that kingdom in every nation on the earth.

Why is this important? Because in a time of great sectarianism and division when differences between people seem insurmountable, Christians need to stand above the fray — not as just another tribe or religion vying for dominance, but as representatives of the kingdom of God that knows no national or political boundary on earth. Christians need to fight for the freedom of what Os Guinness, our guest on tonight’s BlogTalkRadio segment calls: “all religions and none” to exist and express themselves, not just our religion. Christianity is not a religion anyway. It is if you study it in a textbook or in history, but true Christianity is not a religion in the Bible, it is a relationship with Christ.

We have to decide if we want the culture wars and Crusades, or if we want a free and open society. If we establish and support true religious freedom in the public square, we create a friendly and open environment where the gospel of Jesus Christ can truly be considered for what it is: God’s free and gracious offering of salvation to everyone. Then the gospel can truly be the Gospel of Welcome.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

For an important 15-minute segment of our interview with Os Guinness, author of The Global Public Square, tune into our BlogTalkRadio site at 6pm Pacific tonight or anytime thereafter.

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12 Responses to True Religion

  1. Awesome way of wording this.

  2. Markus says:

    The Bible is clear that there is only one God, BUT I also believe that God prefers honest unbelievers over those who only fake it. It is still not wise to not believe in God, but I don’t see how a Christian could possibly argue against religious freedom.

    But it is not just about the Bible. I would also feel uncomfortable about the thought that somebody only says the right words for whatever egoistical reasons, but without actually believing in them. This is also why I prefer societies where being a Christian offers neither social advantages, nor disadvantages. I mean, I would prefer to NEVER be prosecuted for my faith – I would lie if I said anything else about this subject – , but I don’t want Christians to have any particular (secular) benefits either, because that would be asking for trouble. People who only pretend to be believers for whatever reason might still find to God, but such people are still a great danger for the church, because why should they even try to adhere to God’s word when nobody else is looking? Or why should they not try to twist God’s word for personal gain? That’s why I prefer for such people to not have any reason to fake “faith”. Religious freedom is very helpful there.

  3. Kris Rudin says:

    This is SO well-put and so needed!! I wish I could have written it. But I’ll be sharing it with everyone I know!!

  4. Sandie says:

    Reminds me of the ‘debates’ referred to in Acts 17, wherein Paul challenged the local philosophers as he share the gospel – he also spoke in the marketplace to whoever gathered there. Debates then were marked by respectful, active listening (something sorely lacking today). Paul researched and listened BEFORE he spoke…something we Christians need to do more of. We would do well to follow one of the ministry directives given to members of Christian Motorcyclists Ass. – “Earn the right to speak.”

  5. Tim says:

    When I tell people that I don’t like religous people i get some strange looks but as a follower of Christ I have no use for religous people they do more harm than good.

  6. kay clark says:

    Wow!! Makes you think!

  7. Robert Smith says:

    Every time you pick up a daily paper or watch the news you see someone protesting something. When I think of “protest,” however, my thoughts often turn to that small band of men who had the guts to protest a religious system that had become corrupt to the core.

    Godless church prelates paraded their carnality, indulging in shameless acts of the flesh. Bibles, banned from the common people, were chained to ornate pulpits and printed only in Latin, the “secret language” of the clergy. Instead of demonstrating compassion, unselfishness, grace, and other servantlike characteristics, those who led were anything but models of Christ.

    “Enough!” thought a few straight-thinking souls. Men like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Zwingli, Knox, Calvin, and Luther refused to sit back, smile, and stay quiet. Their zeal became contagious, and they led thousands of others who joined their band of “protestants.” And protest they did!

    Luther’s philosophy could be summed up in his own timely words: “If you preach the gospel in all aspects with the exception of the issues which deal specifically with your time—you are not preaching the gospel at all.”

    In other words, the gospel isn’t to be changed. But it is to cut into each generation, like a flashing sword sharpened on the stone of Scripture, tempered in the furnace of reality, relevance, and need.

    Jesus Christ met people where they were. His words touched nerves. There was a lot more here-and-now than then-and-there in His talks. His attack on the hypocrisy and prejudice of religious phonies came through loud and clear. He met people as they were, not as they “ought to” be. Angry young men, blind beggars, proud politicians, loose-living street-walkers, ignorant fishermen, naked victims of demonism, and grieving parents were as clearly in His focus as the Twelve who sometimes hung on His every word.

    His enemies misunderstood Him, but they couldn’t ignore Him. They hated Him, but were never bored around Him. Jesus was the epitome of relevance. Still is.

    It is we who have hauled the cross back out of sight. It is we who have left the impression that it belongs beneath the soft shadows of stained glass and marble statues.

    And so . . . let’s never lose relevance as we continue our work of reforming. Let’s never bore people with the gospel. Let’s never think that Christianity is something we must keep to ourselves and fearfully protect. Let’s stay in the trenches of real-world involvements.

    “Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles,
    but on a cross between two thieves” (George MacLeod).

    – Chuck Swindoll, “The Relevance of Reforming”

  8. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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